While claiming that he is becoming a single man, Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage, who is currently under a cloud of allegations for threatening his estranged wife, denied accusations levelled against him. In a wide ranging interview with our sister newspaper, “Sunday Lankadeepa”, Aluthgamage explained his side of the events that unfolded during last week.
By Dayaseeli Liyanage
Q: There are allegations that you threatened your wife. Why is that? Are you trying to show your powers to a woman because you are a powerful minister?
I have not threatened her at any time for any reason. I always look after her and protect her because she is the mother of my two children. Therefore I will never do such a thing for any reason. It is said that my wife had informed the Police Chief that she had received death threats. The Police Chief telephoned me after he received the letter and said my wife had lodged a complaint saying that I threatened her. Then I asked him to meet her immediately and record a statement and take legal action against me, if I am wrong.
Q: Are you speaking honestly?
I am speaking frankly. You can ask the Police Chief about this. The Police Chief had sent a DIG to her house and recorded a statement. All these happened within a week.
After recording her statement, police recorded a statement from me also. What she had mentioned in her statement is that ‘Mahinda has never threatened me’.
Q: How do you know what she had told the police? DId you influence the police because you are a minister?
I must know that information when the police takes a statement from me. Otherwise how can I respond to those allegations? She had said that I had not threatened her. She had said even though I had not threatened her over the phone or through another person, a complaint was made fearing that such a thing might happen. Then the police had asked whether she needed police security. She had rejected it. Still she uses the driver paid for by me and my servants are still there in her house. I protect her. I shall never do any harm to her even in the future because she is the mother of my two children.
"The Police Chief had sent a DIG to her house and recorded a statement. All these happened within a week. After recording her statement, police recorded a statement from me also. What she had mentioned in her statement is that ‘Mahinda has never threatened me’"
Q: You must have shown your power at least indirectly because you are a minister.
Her conscience knows the truth. I have not done any sort of influencing and neither have I gotten anyone to do so.
Q: You must have instructed the police what to ask and how to record the statement?
However much the IGP interrogates my wife, she is a clever woman. The Police cannot get answers from her in the way they wish. She gives statements as she wants. If such an influence had been done, it would have been splashed in the media by those who are waiting to sling mud at me.
Q: Are you single now?
I am becoming single.
Q: Are you going to marry again?
I have no such idea right now.
Q: How are your two kids?
My two kids are receiving a very good education. They are very cautious about all these challenges. My son is following an Engineering course at the South Wales University in England. He reads and watches what is published in the media here. He even advises me. He is doing his education successfully. My daughter is studying in Grade 8. Amidst all these challenges, she has scored the highest marks at the term test this year. My children have realised these problems since those days. I am glad that I have achieved to get everything done without hampering their education. They know who their father is.
Q: Do you influence your children?
Whatever problems we have, we are together when it comes to children’s matters and we take decisions together. Both of us are the same.
Q: It is alleged that you have earned money in unjustifiable ways. How did you amass an asset like this?
Mahindananda is someone who stood against corruption. Even the UNP had said in Parliament that Mahindananda was not a thief. So why is Mahindananda attacked?
Q: Some people say you have earned money in improper ways. How did you earn so much wealth?
Mahindananda Aluthgamage is a person who raises voice against corruption. Even the United National Party has accepted in Parliament that Mahindananda is not a robber. So how could anybody attack me?
Q: You have amassed immense wealth like many other politicians and ministers, haven’t you?
You don’t know my family background. My mother is a teacher. Her father who was known as K P Manis Mudalali of the Rojasongama in Kotmale. He was a millionaire in the area. My uncle studied at Ananda College in Colombo as far back as 1965. My mother owned cardamom estates - hundred of acres in extent. My father owned tea factories in Ulapane and Galpaha and was a businessman before he entered politics in 1970. We are rich people for generations. I studied at Royal College. My sisters studied at Stafford Ladies' and Mahamaya College. We didn’t have any financial problems. If someone says Mahindananda became rich after joining politics, that’s not true.
Q: You have acquired wealth even after you became a minister
I managed my father’s estates. Later, I worked in a finance company for ten years as an executive officer. Then I operated two of my own businesses. One was Kegalle Jayabima Land Sales and the other was A and R Land Sales in Kandy. In addition, I owned assets inherited from my father when I entered politics in 1993. The salary of a parliamentarian is not sufficient for living. No one can deny it. If any one accuses me of corruption then they may have their own guilty feelings.. I started some businesses even after I entered politics.
Q: What are they?
I own two enterprises at Katunayake Airport, about which advertisements were placed in the newspapers. I started them in 2004. They have been a good source of income for me. I registered this business in my wife’s name. Her name is A.A.W. Perera. You can see my business files.
Q: Have you evaded tax being a politician?
No, I’ve regularly paid taxes. Annually I pay Rs500,000 as tax. I do not think those richer than me are paying as much as I do.
As a frequent political debater on TV, I am being very careful. I make sure that no one can point out my weaknesses.